By: Will VanOrder
The time is now 6:01 pm, and the senate chambers are promptly brought to silence; the 60th Senate of ASNMSU has commenced for meeting. As the Pledge of Allegiance ends, the open forum portion of the Senate is opened. Following the patterns of Senates past, nobody shows to share their concerns during this forum. Thus ends Senator DeLorean Forbes’ first duty of the evening.
“Open forum is the portion of senate is where students can come and address the Senate on issues they believe we should know about,” says Arts and Sciences Senator Forbes, who also holds the position of Sergeant at Arms. “I manage this portion of the Senate and ensure that students are given proper time before senate to voice their concerns.”
Senator Forbes, who has been at NMSU for three years now, says he has only seen a handful of students take advantage of this opportunity during his tenure as a member of ASNMSU. “Any student paying the ASNMSU fee ($33.50) as part of their tuition has access to this benefit. I’ve only seen students speak during the open forum on two or three separate occasions.”
To sign up for the open forum portion of Senate, all students need to do is walk into the front office of ASNMSU. “If you walk into the ASNMSU office on the second floor of Corbett and talk to Lorraine, she will take your name down. From that point, as long as you show up to Senate on time the following Thursday, you will be given time to speak,” Forbes told the Round Up. “Each student will be given five minutes to speak their mind, with Senate reserving the right to vote for an extension of an additional five minutes.”
There are currently no students signed up to speak at the next senate meeting during the open forum, something Forbes wishes would change. “I maintain that (the open forum log) to ensure that students get the time they deserve before senate, and not enough are taking advantage of this opportunity.” For students desiring further involvement or insight to the 60th Senate of ASNMSU, this could potentially provide that opportunity.
Senator Forbes’ other main duty for the night (in addition to being a senator) is to act as an aid to the Vice President, Kevin Prieto. “My priority throughout the night is to keep order on the floor of these meetings,” Forbes noted. The Senate of ASNMSU follows Robert’s Rules of Order, which means that the only people who have the privilege to be on the floor are Senators and staff members. “I have to help the Vice President ensure that anyone who isn’t supposed to be on the floor isn’t, and that everyone is quiet and respectful while we conduct business.”
The last of Senator Forbes’ explicitly stated duties is to act as Chairmen of the Rules Committee. Senate has three committees that a bill has to pass through before being finalized: The Rules Committee, Community Affairs Committee and Finance Committee. “The Rules Committee meets on Senate’s off weeks on Tuesdays at 5:30 pm. We make sure that everything on there is legal.” If a bill passes through Senate, but does not meet the requirements of any of the three committees, it will not go through.
Senator Forbes and his fellow senators on the Rules Committee are responsible for “updating the rules of senate.” According to him, all changes made to the law book have to first be approved by the Rules Committee.
Six and a half hours later, Senate is dismissed from the chambers for the night. Young men and women in suits go back to studying for midterms and trying to figure out where to make up for lost sleep, each with their own list of additional responsibilities besides acting as a representative for their constituents’ bills. Among them is Senator DeLorean Forbes, who looks at the evening with reminiscent wishful-ness, hoping that next meeting there will be students present to make full use of their privileges. “We (Senate) want students to be taking full advantage of their right to come and speak at our meetings; it is our responsibility to listen and consider their requests and concerns, and to attempt to help find solutions where possible,” said Forbes. “If our meetings are going to last as long as they do, we might as well be spending a portion of that time hearing from the people who we are responsible representing.”